Other Ways to Win, Lee Craigie
A friend of mine once wrote: “When the immediate human attachment world has let us down in some ways in childhood, and the land is there, I think falling into the archetypal through the land is one of the healthiest resources we have”. I thought of this as I read Lee Craigie’s forthcoming autobiography: Other Ways to Win.
Best known for her successes as a former professional mountain biker and Scotland’s Ambassador for Active Travel, it is our connection to the land that inspires and drives her forwards: something she expresses repeatedly throughout the book, from the very first chapter:
“At Sweeney’s I feel part of the landscape, which I suppose I am wherever I go, but it’s easier to feel this in some places than in others.
In a world where it feels like we are growing too fast for our own skin and we seem unable to accept the changes we know will make our world healthier, happier and fairer, Eigg folds its arms and rocks back on its heels, whistling through its teeth at us. It seems to say, ‘I told you so.’”
Lee takes us travelling through many remote places, from The Campsie Fells of her childhood, along brutal Scottish routes such as the Highland 550, and further afield into Europe and North America (including the Tour Divide, riding unsupported from Canada to the Mexican Border). She writes candidly about her experiences of professional sport, but it is her portrayal of the journeys she experiences, the people she encounters and the friendships she forges that make this book unforgettable.
“I am constantly surprised by what it is possible to achieve when a group of people share a common goal, compassion for each other and a willingness to cooperate, compromise and dig that bit deeper when the going gets really tough”.
Our relationship with the environment, as well as with one another, is the thread that binds the book together: A series of odysseys, literal and spiritual, through wild, beautiful and at times brutal landscapes. A weaving of Lee’s inner world with her physical connectedness to the landscape through which she travels.
It is this recognition of our fundamental symbiotic connection with the natural world and the need for greater equality and empathy that is behind ventures such as Cycletherapy, The Adventure Syndicate and the Cargo Bike Movement charity. Harnessing the healing and restorative powers of nature, whilst recognising our collective responsibility to preserve it, Lee’s tone is both contemplative and upbeat. On preparing to embark on the Resolution Race, she writes:
“Our hope was that this seemingly arbitrary and almost impossible challenge would bring the more serious global climate challenge we are all facing into sharp relief. We are all inextricably connected to one another, and the only way to make change, to achieve the seemingly impossible, is to endure some personal inconvenience and rise together with mutual care, trust, flexibility and good humour.”
And available to preorder here: